(TNS)—For millennials who are ready to become homeowners, finding an affordable house in a great community can be challenging. With housing inventory historically low, real estate in major metro areas is at a premium. It’s no surprise, then, that young buyers are moving to the suburbs, according to the 2017 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report by the National Association of REALTORS®.
Among millennials surveyed, 57 percent bought a house in the suburbs, spending an average of $205,000. Meanwhile, only 12 percent bought in an urban or central city. Affordability, convenience to work and neighborhood quality were among the top requirements for these buyers.
Using this information, we identified five cities that offer some combination of affordable housing, economic growth, job opportunities, proximity to major metro areas and recreational activities.
Great cities for millennial homebuyers:
- Lancaster, Pa.
- Columbus, Ohio
- Garner, N.C.
- Petersburg, Fla.
- West Des Moines, Iowa.
Median value of housing: $109,300
One of the oldest inland cities in the country, Lancaster boasts unique features, such as the country’s oldest continuously running farmers market. It’s also home to an established arts community and a network of independently owned businesses.
There are a number of homes available in Lancaster, including new construction. There were 200 new housing units built in Lancaster in 2017. This year, the city is on track to add 125 more, according to Marshall Snively, president of Lancaster City Alliance.
“In the last 10 years, we’ve had more than $1.5 billion in public and private investment, including residential development, and more is on the table,” Snively says.
Nestled between Harrisburg and Philadelphia, Lancaster is a good option for people who want to work in one of these larger cities but own in a more affordable location. Residents can take a train to Harrisburg in less than 35 minutes, and trains into New York City take about two-and-a-half hours.
Local businesses abound, so many residents don’t have to look beyond the city for jobs. Medical center Lancaster General Health has a network of 300 physicians and more than 3,600 employees. Fulton Bank, one of the region’s most prominent financial institutions, is headquartered in Lancaster.
The city has a strong arts culture, which supports a variety of vintage and antique stores, as well as outdoor markets and performing arts. Gallery Row downtown consists of three blocks of galleries, restaurants and retail.
Median value of housing: $131,800
You can own a home in Columbus without breaking the bank. Even in some of the more expensive neighborhoods, like Harrison West, you can find three-bedroom, two-bath homes for under $250,000.
Columbus supports many industries, including healthcare, education, finance, manufacturing, retail and technology. Columbus’ largest employer, the Ohio State University, has more than 30,000 full-time workers. Nationwide Insurance is also headquartered here, with about 13,000 full-time employees.
Columbus offers amenities for just about…